Category Archives: vintage model railroading

AHM/Rivarossi HO scale 4-8-8-2 Cab-forward original June 1966 Model Railroader magazine Trade Topics review

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My example was picked up at a local swap meet for $25. It was being sold by an older woman who was recently widowed. When I informed her that it was worth far more, she thanked me and said that her son set the prices and that she would go by that. Conscience cleared, I found when I brought it home that it had a warped frame inside the boiler, causing the rear engine to set tippy-toed on the forward driver. After many hard stares at it, I finally broke the frame into three pieces, then carefully glued it back together with JB Weld. With some careful filing and fitting and a coat of paint, the engine was reassembled with a DCC chip, 3 ounces of additional weight and an LED headlight. It pulls 35 cars easily up a 1.75% grade and runs quite well with the original 3 pole motor.

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Mantua/TYCO Alco C430, circa 1966-’67, original ads and Model Railroader magazine product review

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Hard to believe it will be turning 50 next year. My examples include the rather hard to find Presidential Seal version, pulled from the shelves on demand of the White house for TYCO’s unauthorized use of the seal. It was soon replaced with a more simplified version…it was a gift from an online friend.

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This one was part of a freebie lot that came from a local police evidence locker…

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This one, the oldest of the four, was another gift, and dates back to the original release.

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…even Canadians have one…

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AHM/Rivarossi HO scale 2-8-4 NKP Berkshire, circa 1966, original Model Railroader magazine Trade Topics review…

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Thanks to DCC and Tsunami sound modules, mine was found in a box of cast offs for next to nothing and, as you can see, is near flawless. Alessandro Rivarossi worked hard to make these beautiful locomotives of his affordable and able to operate on impossible radius track (18″ for most–even his 2-8-8-2 N&W Mallet!!).

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In our vain glorious attempt at modeling perfection, we’ve forgotten what feats of engineering these little beasts…even the oldest of them…can be. As Solomon put it…;

Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. –(Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)

I have pictures of a 4-12-12-6 articulated built in gold elsewhere on this blog. When I look at it and the past works of others long since gone, how much of that is now laying at the bottom of some landfill, food for whatever lives in that debris.

It should give one pause…to consider one’s way…and one’s final end. It all goes to dust in the end my friend, no matter how accurately done.

Yup…still here…

I could say that it has been a hard six months, but my missionary family in Nepal and my immediate family in Baltimore might beg to differ.

I had a career move go bad back in October, leaving me to work at the bottom rung in a trade where I used to be the top dog. I literally wept when I realized for the first time that I was back on 24/7 emergency call once again, a duty that never failed to remind me that it came with an 80 mile round trip commute, and at the oddest hours one could want to work, and in a part of town not known for its hospitality at those hours. The physical demands were taking their toll as well, upwards of 4 hours of my day was just the commute, not including any emergency calls. I put 10000+ miles on our only vehicle in 4 months, one that has way too many miles on it already.

As of yesterday, I no longer work there. When my employer found out that I was still scouting another job back in February (read that: a much shorter commute), the hunt for my replacement was on, with me staying around until they found one, or until I found a new job. They won that race, as I am currently still looking for work.

The whole thing has left me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted to a point I have never been before. My well of tears has run dry, and any desire for the pulpit has been thoroughly beaten out of me–I don’t even want to do a Sunday School class, and my Bible reading and study times are at the barest minimum at the moment.

These are by no means complaints or murmurings, they are just an explanation of where I’ve been these last six months. I’m still modeling, just not at the pace I used to, and that wasn’t a lot then. I’ll just post the bigger projects from the last 6 months for now, in the hopes I can chronicle them individually and in more detail later, should time permit…

I was given a Bachmann 4-4-0 “Jupiter” with a drive that was too damaged and too difficult repair, but that was cosmetically complete. I turned it into a flat car load, after removing the motor and sheathing in the fuel bunker. Once done, I chained it down after building some lathing for it on the flat car decks…

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I received a batch of slightly damaged cars that I repaired with various items, including bits of wire, scale lumber, and…toothpicks…

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…this old Revell Beano crummy was a nice rescue…

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I am still converting toy diecast into reasonably accurate models as well. This Majorette RV was a simple fix with some scrap wheels from long lost HO trucks…

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This Kibri truck kit was purchased second hand, only to find during its assembly that the wheels were missing. Wheels salvaged off of Reader’s Digest fire trucks fixed that in short order…

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Several kits were finished, including this Roundhouse kit from a series made in memory of John Allen’s famed Gorre & Daphetid R.R….

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…and this old Comet kit from the ’40s of an outside braced auto parts box car, complete with a set of Baker couplers, the type John Allen used on his road. I plan on building a short consist using these couplers and other 45+ year old kits I have on hand…

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I did some flat car loads…finally.

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Lastly, I started a Fine Scale Miniatures kit, “Water tank and tool shed #125”, one of 6 FSM kits I recently purchased from a fellow modeler’s estate. After informing the executor of the estate of the value of these, he still wanted to sell them to me at an excellent bargain, feeling that that is what his friend and his friend’s widow would have wanted, especially seeing how knowledgeable I was on their history and intricacy. I well remember slavering over the color ads as a teenager, and now I will likely be kept occupied with them for some time to come…

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With that, I bid you all God’s greatest blessings, grace and peace found only in Christ, may your hope be only in His Cross, and may this only ever be your hobby and not an unholy affection.

Athearn rubber band drive 4-6-2 Pacific…

Until recently, a thing of legend, pondered but never proven, the Holy Grail of all things Athearn, the locomotive model that nearly broke Irv…a Hi-F rubber band drive Pacific. There were always rumors, but nothing confirmed until this past spring…

As posted on Ebay…

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…another legend confirmed, it was at $3200 when I signed off…

Northwest Short Line 18 ton Class “A” Shay…original review 1974.

July 1974 Railroad Modeler magazine…

Interestingly, it does not point out the fact that the rear truck and crankshaft are just along for the ride…they were not designed to work on this particular model.  This may be one the “production problems” cryptically referenced in one of NWSL’s original ads from back then.  If so, it begs the question of value…could this flaw make it worth a little more because it was uncorrected?  Years ago a brass locomotive was sold with 1 1/2 volt motors installed instead of the usual 16-18 volt ones.  A recall was quickly sent out to correct the flaw but less than 10% were returned for a new motor.  Working models with the original motor are worth more—so long as they are carefully tested with a very low juice power source.

Regardless, it is one of my favorites, even if it makes my TYCOs look like they are powered by Kato drives…